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A cool idea from Lockheed Martin Aeronautics: Hosting supplier forums

by Scott Wallask

April 14, 2011

By Scott Wallask, SAP Experts

I wonder how many of you have considered holding forums to keep your suppliers informed about new developments or changes to SAP software you’re using.

That’s what happens at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, which introduced a new supply chain portal strategy that involves SAP Supply Network Collaboration (SAP SNC). The company discusses this effort as part of in-depth article, “Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Revolutionizes Its Supply Chain,” in the latest issue of our free insiderProfiles.

By the end of 2011, about 600 of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics’ suppliers will be using the new portal system to collaborate with the company and access parts of SAP SNC. As part of their introduction to the portal, those suppliers receive training before gaining access to it.

Meanwhile, a project team within Lockheed Martin Aeronautics also hosts biweekly user forums during which suppliers can get specific questions answered and share ideas and tips among their fellow su ppliers.

“The forums allow us to show that we’re listening to suppliers and that we are changing the system based on their feedback,” Michael Palm, the company’s senior operations engineer, tells insiderProfiles. “There may be a case where the system works as designed but, from a usability standpoint, may not be streamlined. So we take that feedback and develop enhancements to make the tool and our suppliers more effective.”

I love the idea of such forums because they are simple and inexpensive. If you think about all of the outside vendors a company touches as part of the supply chain, any chance to connect better with those suppliers is a chance to improve operations and maintain better relationships.

By the way, if you’ve never checked out insiderProfiles, browse through the latest issue because it features some useful case studies.

Follow Scott on Twitter @SCMexpert

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